Press Release
March 13, 2017


Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, will lead a public hearing on Tuesday, March 14, on measures calling for stricter regulation of land-based transportation following a string of deadly road accidents.

The hearing will be held at the Senate Session Hall at 10 a.m.

Poe's committee invited key officials from the Department of Transportation (DoTr) led by Sec. Arthur Tugade, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Metro Manila Development Authority, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, as well as representatives from the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection, University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies, Bestlink College Novaliches, Panda Coach Tours and Transport, and Haranah Tours, among others.

Included in the agenda are Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 190 filed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, SRN 301 by Poe, SRN 314 by Sen. Leila de Lima, Senate Bill No. (SB) No. 1231 or the proposed Road Safety and Comprehensive Driver's Education Act filed by Poe, and a privilege speech of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III calling for a probe on road accidents.

The hearing will also discuss other transport-related legislation such as SB Nos. 863, 896 and 1059 or the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights filed separately by Senators Ralph Recto, Joseph Victor Ejercito and Emmanuel Pacquiao, SB Nos. 340 and 375 ordaining the Bill of Rights of Taxi Passengers filed by Senators Poe and Sherwin Gatchalian, and SB No. 656 or the Maritime Passenger Safety Act filed by Sen. Bam Aquino IV.

This early, the senator urged authorities to initiate a crackdown on road-unworthy public utility buses and tour bus operators in the light of the tragic accident in Tanay, Rizal that killed students from Bestlink College.

Poe said the DoTr, in particular the LTFRB and LTO, should pursue urgent nationwide roadworthiness compliance checks on the units of all bus firms in the wake of the discovery that the bus involved in the road crash that claimed the lives of 15 people, mostly college students, was actually plying the roads for three decades already. She issued the warning that there may be other old bus units that are still on the road.

The senator said transport accidents also prompted a renewed push for SB No. 162 or the proposed National Transportation Safety Board of 2016 that aims to create an independent and non-regulatory panel that will oversee and coordinate efforts among various agencies involved in overall management of land, air, maritime and railway transportation. The functions of the NTSB include conducting independent accident investigations; supporting safety programs based on continuing reviews of causes of unfortunate incidents; and assessing the operating practices and regulations of transportation-oriented government agencies.

A Panda Coach bus with plate number TXS 325 was traveling along Sitio Bayucal in Barangay Sampaloc in Tanay when it allegedly lost its brake and smashed into an electric post and a tree around 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 20. The students were bound for a camping activity at Sacramento Adventure Camp in Tanay when the accident happened.

The bus owned by Panda Coach Tours and Travel Inc. was actually manufactured in 1988 and not in 2004 as initially reported. The latest information on the ill-fated tourist bus shows that the post-EDSA bus should have been phased out based on DOTr Order No. 2002-30 which mandates the phase out of 15-year-old buses, LTFRB Resolution No. 2013-001 and the decision of the Court of Appeals last year upholding the state agency's directive in the light of numerous vehicular accidents. The World Health Organization estimated that 10,379 lives were lost due to road accidents in the Philippines in 2013. The University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies, meanwhile, estimates that 1,000 lives are lost every year due to road accidents. #

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